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Taiwan

TAIWAN TRAVEL GUIDE

Taiwan is a whole continent on an island - one seriously green island! Underrated by Western travellers, but as we discovered, those that make it here are in for a real treat. Towering sea cliffs, marble-walled gorges, and tropical forests are just the start of your journey with the blue Pacific on one side and green volcanic arcs on the other. It is no secret why the old name of Taiwan, Formosa, comes from the Portuguese Ilha Formosa for "beautiful island" was chosen. From the bustling metropolitan city of Taipei to the incredible beauty of nature at Yangmingshan National Park and Taroko National Park and even surfing at the beaches of Kenting National Park, you are sure to enjoy your visit to Taiwan. Top it off with sensational food, traditional festivals, and exuberant temples and you might just think this is the best of all of Asia on one tiny island.

 

We spent just over a month exploring the north and northeast regions of Taiwan during April and May 2019. As the rainy season was approaching early, we postponed venturing south, but will definitely be back to explore more of this wonderful country.

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  • Currency: New Taiwan Dollar (NT$) - Current conversion rate here.

  • Electricity: 110V AC electricity. Power outlets are both flat two-prong sockets (type A) and flat three-prong sockets (type B) which will also accept type A plugs. Be sure to pack a universal travel adaptor so you can still use all your electronic gadgets.

  • Safety: Most parts of Taiwan are incredibly safe to travel in. Even petty crime rates are fairly low, but pick-pocketing and bag-snatching do occur, especially in locations frequented by tourists, so keep your belongings close. Taiwan does have a high risk of earthquakes. There are also risks of typhoons, especially between July to November, and tourists are recommended to refrain from visiting the mountains during these periods. Whatever you do, don’t travel without travel insurance! We would suggest checking out World Nomads or SafetyWing, for travel insurance as they have the best coverage for active travellers.

  • Language: The official language of Taiwan is Taiwanese Mandarin, which is a variety of Mandarin Chinese. However, the native language of about 70% of the population is Taiwanese Hokkien. Very little English is understood or spoken, particularly outside of the main tourist areas, so it can be a bit of a challenge to get by in most of Taiwan. Be sure to have Google Translate at hand!

 

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BEST TIME TO VISIT TAIWAN

The best time to visit Taiwan is during spring, from April to June, and during fall, from September to November. The weather is warm and pleasant during spring, and it is the shoulder season for tourism which means it’s not that busy.

 

Spring is a beautiful season in Taiwan as the colours bloom in full force. For those who love to hike, this is the best time to visit Taroko National Park, Yangmingshan National Park, the Alishan National Scenic Area, and the Elephant Mountain. The Dragon Boat Festival also happens in May / June. The fall season sees the entire country beginning to cool down and despite the occasional shower, there is much less rain during this period. The southern part of the country remains warm, while the north begins to cool down. This is a great time to visit south and east Taiwan, especially Taroko National Park, Sun Moon Lake, Alishan National Scenic Area, or the Yushan (Jade Mountain). September celebrates the Birthday of Confucius, and October the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Towards the end of May and June, the rainfall starts increasing in frequency.

 

Peak tourist season is considered to be from July to August but it can be incredibly hot and humid during these months, and hotel rates are also higher. Summer arrives towards the end of June and goes on till August. The temperatures go up quite a bit, and the rainfall also increases. The weather in Taiwan over these months will be hot and humid, with June being the rainiest month. The weather is slightly more bearable in the northern part of the country. Typhoons are also common during this season, so be sure you check the weather forecast before travelling.

 

While December to March is considered both winter and the low tourist season, this is when to visit Taiwan if you want to travel on a budget, as there will be great discounts all over the country. Depending on where you are, it may be rather wet though. December is the coldest month in Taiwan and it gets rather chilly in the north, but the temperature is still mild compared to European winters. The biggest attraction of this season is the hot springs, in particular, Beitou.  There are also amazing mountain retreats at Yangmingshan National Park. The southern beaches will be significantly warmer and drier than the north. The Chinese New Year (December - January) is a wonderful celebration to experience all across the country.

Best Time To Go

TAIWAN WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Tropical; Marine; Rainy Season During Southwest Monsoon (June To August); Persistent And Extensive Cloudiness All Year

Taiwan

SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

Read more...

Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

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BEST TIME FOR

SNOW SPORT IN TAIWAN

Taiwan offers a unique opportunity for snow sports enthusiasts, particularly during the winter months. 


The most renowned location for snow in Taiwan is Hehuanshan, a high mountain area where snowfall is more common and where there was once a ski lift in operation. 


While skiing and snowboarding facilities are not as prevalent as in other countries, there are areas like Snow Mountain and the Aurora Ski School that cater to winter sports. 


Additionally, indoor ski schools like City Ski in Taichung provide opportunities for skiing and snowboarding lessons and experience.

HIKING & CYCLING IN TAIWAN

Taiwan has some of the most spectacular outdoor activities in the world, varing from stunning coastal walks to high mountain peaks. 


The best time for hiking is March to May and October to December when the weather is mild and it's not too wet. But always be prepared for some rain! 


One of the most notable is the Holy Ridge in Shei-pa National Park, a route that connects Snow Mountain, Taiwan's second-highest peak, with Dabajianshan, offering breathtaking views from a ridgeline above 3,000 meters. 


For those seeking a whimsical adventure, the Mianyue Line Trail in the Alishan Forest Recreation Area provides a unique experience along an old logging railway. Additionally, the Zhuilu Old Trail in Taroko National Park is renowned for its spectacular views.

BEACH OPTIONS IN TAIWAN

Taiwan may not have the best-known beaches of the Asia, but there is no shortage of beautiful beaches and warm sea water. 


Taiwan offers a variety of beautiful beaches, with options ranging from golden sand to unique black volcanic ash shores. Fulong Beach in New Taipei City is highly recommended for families and is easily accessible from Taipei, making it a perfect spot for a quick getaway. 


For those interested in surfing or experiencing the soft black sands, Wai’ao Beach in Yilan is a great choice. The best time to visit these beaches is during the summer months, especially from May to July, when the weather is warm and suitable for beach activities and water sports. 


However, it's advisable to avoid weekends if you're looking for a more tranquil experience. Another thing to note is that swimming is not allowed at all beaches due to strong currents.

SURFING IN TAIWAN

Taiwan is increasingly recognized as a top surf destination in Asia, offering a variety of spots suitable for different skill levels. The island's East Coast is particularly renowned for its beautiful, wild beaches and consistent waves, making it a paradise for surf enthusiasts. 


Notable spots include Jialeshui in Kenting, known for its longboarding waves, and Jinzun in Taitung, which hosts surf competitions. With its friendly locals, delicious cuisine, and stunning landscapes, Taiwan provides not just great surfing opportunities but also a rich cultural experience. 


Taiwan has all year-round surf, with two distinct surf seasons: Winter (October to March) along the east coast and Summer (April to September) along the south coast.

KITESURF IN TAIWAN

Taiwan offers a variety of kitesurfing experiences, with spots around Taipei being particularly notable for their good winds and accessibility to different shores. The main wind season runs from October to March, but there are also windy days in the off-season summer months. 


Locations like Red Beach near the Danshui river mouth and GuanYin Beach in Taoyuan are popular among enthusiasts. For those seeking a more unique experience, Penghu, an archipelago in the South China Sea, provides excellent conditions with its long wind season lasting from September until May. Check out the local conditions and be aware of any typhoon warnings though!

BEST TIME FOR

Taiwan offers a unique opportunity for snow sports enthusiasts, particularly during the winter months. 


The most renowned location for snow in Taiwan is Hehuanshan, a high mountain area where snowfall is more common and where there was once a ski lift in operation. 


While skiing and snowboarding facilities are not as prevalent as in other countries, there are areas like Snow Mountain and the Aurora Ski School that cater to winter sports. 


Additionally, indoor ski schools like City Ski in Taichung provide opportunities for skiing and snowboarding lessons and experience.

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TAIWAN TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to Taiwan can vary widely depending on factors such as your travel style, duration of stay, choice of accommodation, dining preferences, and planned activities. Here's a breakdown of some typical expenses to consider when budgeting for a trip to Taiwan:

  • Flights: The cost of airfare to Taiwan depends on factors such as your departure location, the time of booking, and whether you choose economy, premium economy, or business class. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars for a round-trip ticket. For the finding the cheapest flights always check SkyScanner.

  • Accommodation: Accommodation costs vary based on the type of lodging you choose. Hostels and budget guesthouses typically range from $15 to $30 per night, mid-range hotels from $50 to $100 per night, and luxury hotels can cost $100 or more per night.

  • Transportation: Within Taiwan, transportation costs can include Taipei Metro fares (ranging from $0.50 to $1.50 per ride), intercity train tickets (approximately $20 to $50 depending on distance and class), intercity bus fares (around $5 to $20 depending on distance), and taxi fares (starting at around $2.20 with additional charges based on distance).

  • Food: Taiwan is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine, with options to fit any budget. Street food and local eateries offer affordable meals ranging from $2 to $5, while casual restaurants typically cost $5 to $15 per meal. Mid-range restaurants may range from $15 to $30 per meal, and fine dining establishments can cost $30 and above per meal.

  • Attractions and Activities: Entrance fees to attractions such as museums, temples, and national parks generally range from $1 to $10 per person. Guided tours or activities, such as hiking tours or city tours, can range from $20 to $100 depending on duration and complexity.

  • Miscellaneous: Additional expenses may include purchasing a SIM card for mobile data (ranging from $5 to $20 depending on data allowance), souvenirs and shopping, travel insurance, and any unforeseen expenses.

Overall, the cost of traveling to Taiwan can vary widely depending on your preferences and travel plans. A budget traveler might aim to spend around $50 to $100 per day, while mid-range travelers might budget $100 to $200 per day or more. It's essential to research and plan your trip carefully to ensure that you budget appropriately for your desired level of comfort and experiences.

Cost & Spending

TAIWAN TRAVEL TIPS

Traveling to Taiwan can be an exciting and enriching experience with its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural landscapes. Here are some travel tips to help you make the most of your trip:

  • Try the Street Food: Taiwan is famous for its street food culture. Don't hesitate to try local specialties like beef noodle soup, stinky tofu, and bubble tea from street vendors and night markets. These culinary experiences are not to be missed.

  • Use Public Transportation: Taiwan has an excellent public transportation system, especially in Taipei. Utilize the Taipei Metro, buses, and trains to get around efficiently and affordably. Consider getting an EasyCard for convenience and discounts on transportation fares.

  • Explore Beyond Taipei: While Taipei offers plenty to see and do, don't miss the opportunity to explore other parts of Taiwan. Visit the stunning Taroko Gorge in Hualien, the historic city of Tainan, or the scenic Sun Moon Lake in Nantou.

  • Respect Local Customs: Taiwanese people are polite and friendly, and it's essential to respect local customs and etiquette. For example, it's customary to remove your shoes when entering someone's home or certain temples. Learning a few basic phrases in Mandarin, such as "hello" (nǐ hǎo) and "thank you" (xièxiè), can also be appreciated.

  • Stay Connected with Free Wi-Fi: Many public places in Taiwan offer free Wi-Fi, including airports, metro stations, and cafes. Download offline maps and translation apps to navigate the city and communicate with locals more easily.

  • Experience Traditional Festivals: If possible, plan your trip around one of Taiwan's traditional festivals, such as the Lantern Festival or the Dragon Boat Festival. These celebrations offer a unique insight into Taiwanese culture and traditions.

  • Stay Safe and Hydrated: Taiwan is generally a safe destination for travelers, but it's essential to take standard precautions. Stay hydrated, especially during hot and humid weather, and be cautious when crossing the street, as traffic can be hectic in urban areas.

  • Prepare for the Weather: Taiwan has a subtropical climate with distinct seasons. Pack accordingly, especially if you plan to visit mountainous areas where temperatures can be cooler. Typhoon season typically occurs from June to October, so be aware of weather forecasts and potential travel disruptions during this time.

  • Respect Nature: Taiwan is blessed with beautiful natural landscapes, including mountains, forests, and beaches. Practice responsible tourism by following designated trails, disposing of waste properly, and respecting wildlife.

  • Try Temple Etiquette: If you visit temples or religious sites, dress modestly and remove your hat before entering. Be mindful of taking photos, especially during worship or ceremonies, and avoid touching or disturbing sacred objects.


GETTING AROUND TAIWAN

Transport from one place to the next is very easy in Taiwan and is quite efficient. There are well established public transport systems across the entire country. We recommend using BookAway or 12Go website to view bus, boat, and train schedules ahead of time. Skyscanner.com or Kiwi.com are handy tools for finding great flight deals


Here are some helpful details about the various public transport options in Taiwan:

  • Taipei Metro (MRT): The Taipei Metro, also known as the MRT, is the rapid transit system serving Taipei and New Taipei City.
    It consists of several lines covering most of the city and connecting major attractions, shopping districts, and transportation hubs.
    Fares are distance-based and range from NT$20 to NT$65 per ride. Discounts are available for using an EasyCard or purchasing multi-day passes.

  • Taiwan Railways (TRA): Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) operates the train services throughout Taiwan, connecting major cities and towns. TRA offers different types of trains, including express, local, and high-speed rail (THSR).
    THSR, also known as Taiwan High-Speed Rail, is a convenient option for traveling long distances between major cities, with trains reaching speeds of up to 300 km/h.

  • Intercity Buses: Intercity buses provide transportation between cities and towns across Taiwan, complementing the train network. Various bus companies operate routes with different levels of comfort and amenities. Some popular operators include Ubus, Guoguang Bus, and Kamalan Bus. 

  • City Buses: Each city in Taiwan has its own bus system, providing coverage within the city and surrounding areas. City buses are an affordable way to get around, with fares typically ranging from NT$15 to NT$30 depending on the distance traveled. Taipei also has an extensive network of YouBike stations, allowing travelers to rent bicycles for short trips within the city. 

  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available in Taiwan's cities and can be hailed from the street or hired from taxi stands. Taxi fares start at around NT$70 to NT$85 for the first 1.25 to 2 kilometers, with additional charges based on distance traveled and waiting time.

  • Ferry Services: Ferry services operate between Taiwan's main island and outlying islands such as Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu. These ferries provide an alternative mode of transportation for travelers wishing to explore Taiwan's island destinations.

  • Airport Transportation: Both Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA) and Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) are well-connected to the city centers by public transportation.
    The Airport MRT line serves Taoyuan Airport, providing fast and convenient access to downtown Taipei. Airport buses also operate between the airports and various locations in Taipei and other cities.

When using public transportation in Taiwan, it's advisable to purchase an EasyCard (悠遊卡) for convenience. EasyCards can be used on MRT, buses, and even for payment at convenience stores and some taxis. Additionally, English signage and announcements are prevalent on public transportation, making it accessible for tourists.

 

If you want to get an idea of how much we spend travelling see our Budget Report section.

 

RELATED POSTS:

Taiwan Budget Report (30 night) 2019

Travel Tips

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF TAIWAN

Taiwan is a diverse island with a wide range of attractions spread across its various regions. Here are some of the main regions worth visiting in Taiwan and their highlights:


Northern Taiwan:

  • Taipei: Explore Taiwan's vibrant capital city, known for its bustling night markets, modern skyscrapers, and cultural attractions such as the National Palace Museum and Taipei 101.

  • Jiufen: Visit this charming mountain town with narrow streets, old tea houses, and stunning views of the coastline. Jiufen is famous for its nostalgic atmosphere and was the inspiration for the anime film "Spirited Away."

  • Yangmingshan National Park: Enjoy hiking trails, hot springs, and volcanic landscapes in this beautiful national park located just north of Taipei.

Eastern Taiwan:

  • Taroko Gorge: Marvel at the breathtaking scenery of Taroko Gorge, one of Taiwan's most stunning natural wonders. Explore marble cliffs, rushing rivers, and scenic hiking trails in this dramatic gorge.

  • Hualien: Base yourself in Hualien to explore Taroko Gorge and enjoy its laid-back atmosphere, local cuisine, and proximity to scenic coastal areas like Qixingtan Beach.

  • East Rift Valley: Discover picturesque countryside, lush rice paddies, and indigenous culture in the East Rift Valley, which stretches from Hualien to Taitung.

Central Taiwan:

  • Sun Moon Lake: Visit Taiwan's largest lake, known for its tranquil beauty, surrounded by forested mountains and dotted with temples and hiking trails. Take a boat ride on the lake and visit nearby attractions like Wenwu Temple and Ci'en Pagoda.

  • Taichung: Explore Taiwan's second-largest city, known for its vibrant arts scene, shopping districts, and night markets. Don't miss the colorful Rainbow Village and the scenic Gaomei Wetlands.

Southern Taiwan:

  • Kaohsiung: Experience Taiwan's second-largest city, known for its modern skyline, lively night markets, and cultural attractions such as the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center and Lotus Pond.

  • Tainan: Discover Taiwan's oldest city, renowned for its rich history, temples, and traditional Taiwanese cuisine. Visit historical sites like Anping Fort, Chihkan Tower, and the Confucius Temple.

Western Taiwan:

  • Chiayi: Explore the gateway to Alishan National Scenic Area, famous for its mountain railway, towering cypress trees, and stunning sunrise views. Don't miss the Alishan Forest Railway and the Sacred Tree.

  • Miaoli: Experience rural Taiwan in Miaoli, known for its idyllic countryside, hot springs, and Hakka culture. Visit attractions like Shengxing Railway Station and Flying Cow Ranch.

Outlying Islands:

  • Penghu: Discover Taiwan's tropical paradise, with pristine beaches, coral reefs, and historic sites. Enjoy water sports, island hopping, and exploring traditional fishing villages.

  • Kinmen and Matsu: Explore Taiwan's offshore islands, known for their military history, fortifications, and unique cultural heritage. Visit landmarks like Kinmen's Shuitou Village and Matsu's Beihai Tunnel.

Highlights
What To See & Do
Travel Map

RELATED POSTS:

TAIPEI - What To See And Do

What You Need To Know Before Travelling To HUALIEN

How To See TAROKO National Park

 

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN TAIWAN


Admire the Taipei 101

This beautiful building is synonymous with the city of Taipei. Having held the title of the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010 and with its unique form, shaped like a stalk of bamboo emerging from the city, one can clearly understand why Taipei is so proud of this building.


Insider Travel Tip: The lines to the Taipei 101 can get busy which is why we recommend booking your tickets online. Collect your ticket at the self-service ticket machine for convenience.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

Free to visit, the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is situated within Liberty Square, which also houses the classical-Chinese style National Theatre and National Concert Hall. If you are inside the Memorial Hall on the hour, you can see the changing of the guards.

 

Visit Taroko Gorge in Taroko National Park

Taroko National Park and Gorge can easily be visited from almost anywhere in Taiwan and are indeed very impressive and should not be missed. You can access the park either by arranged tour, private guide, by public bus or by your own transportation. See our Blog Post on How to See Taroko National Park. Each option has its pros and cons, however, we recommend renting a scooter if you are comfortable doing so. If you’re short on time but want to see the best of Taroko, we recommend this day tour from Taipei.

 

Visit Hualien & Qixingtan Scenic Area

If you want to escape the big cities and enjoy the beauty of the nature of Taiwan, the relaxed town of Hualien and the incredibly beautiful coastline of the Qixingtan Scenic Area are a must-see.

 

Sun Moon Lake

At the foothills of Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range, Sun Moon Lake is surrounded by forested peaks. East of the lake, the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is a theme park with a section devoted to re-created indigenous villages. The Sun Moon Lake Ropeway cable car offers views of the mountains and water.

 

Dragon and Tiger Pagodas at Lotus Lake

Located in a scenic area, on the edge of Lotus Lake, these two pagodas are possibly the most popular attractions in the port city of Kaohsiung. Visitors enter the temple through the dragon’s mouth and exit through the tiger’s mouth and can enjoy a view of the lake from the top of each tower.

 

Taste The Local Cuisine At A Night Market

A typical night market in Taiwan may sell anything from food to clothing to fortune-telling services. The variety of food on offer can be staggering and you're sure to be surprised by the interesting and unique combinations. We have made a bunch of videos of our experiences at night markets all across Taiwan (see here) - and NEVER left hungry! If you're on the hunt for anything besides food many a bargain can be had, and wherever prices are not displayed, haggling is expected. Discover the best of Taiwan night market food with the help of a local guide


SUGGESTED ITINERARIES FOR VISIING TAIWAN


One-Week Itinerary: Best of Taiwan Highlights

Day 1: Arrival in Taipei

  • Arrive in Taipei and check into your accommodation.

  • Explore Taipei's bustling Ximending district, known for shopping, street food, and entertainment.

  • Visit the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper for panoramic views of the city.

Day 2: Taipei City Tour

  • Explore the historic district of Dadaocheng and visit attractions like Dihua Street and Bao'an Temple.

  • Visit the National Palace Museum to see its vast collection of Chinese artifacts.

  • Explore the trendy neighborhoods of Da'an or Zhongshan in the evening.

Day 3: Day Trip to Jiufen and Keelung

  • Take a day trip to Jiufen, a charming mountain town known for its narrow streets and old tea houses.

  • Explore Jiufen Old Street, enjoy tea at a traditional teahouse, and visit the Jiufen Gold Mine Museum.

  • Visit the lively night market in Keelung for dinner and street food.

Day 4: Taroko Gorge

  • Travel to Hualien and explore Taroko Gorge National Park, one of Taiwan's most stunning natural attractions.

  • Visit highlights such as the Swallow Grotto, Eternal Spring Shrine, and Shakadang Trail.

  • Overnight in Hualien.

Day 5: Sun Moon Lake

  • Travel to Sun Moon Lake and take a scenic boat ride on the lake.

  • Visit attractions like Wenwu Temple and Ci'en Pagoda for panoramic views of the lake.

  • Enjoy hiking or cycling around the lake shores.

  • Overnight in Sun Moon Lake area.

Day 6: Alishan

  • Travel to Alishan and experience the Alishan Forest Railway, one of Taiwan's most scenic train journeys.

  • Explore Alishan National Scenic Area, including the Sacred Tree and Sister Pond.

  • Watch the sunrise at Alishan and take in the breathtaking views.

  • Overnight in Alishan or Chiayi.

Day 7: Departure from Taipei

  • Travel back to Taipei and spend your last day exploring any remaining attractions or shopping for souvenirs.

  • Depart from Taipei, concluding your one-week trip to Taiwan.


Two-Week Itinerary: Comprehensive Taiwan Experience

Follow the one-week itinerary above and extend your stay with the following additional days:

Day 8: Tainan

  • Travel to Tainan, Taiwan's oldest city, known for its rich history and cultural heritage.

  • Visit historical sites such as Anping Fort, Chihkan Tower, and the Confucius Temple.

  • Enjoy traditional Taiwanese cuisine at Tainan's famous night markets.

Day 9-10: Kenting National Park

  • Travel to Kenting National Park, located at the southern tip of Taiwan.

  • Spend two days exploring the park's beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and hiking trails.

  • Visit attractions such as Kenting Main Street, Longpan Park, and Maobitou.

Day 11-12: Kaohsiung

  • Travel to Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second-largest city, known for its modern skyline and cultural attractions.

  • Explore landmarks like the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center, Lotus Pond, and Cijin Island.

  • Visit the Pier-2 Art Center and enjoy the local food scene at Liuhe Night Market.

Day 13-14: Penghu Islands

  • Take a flight or ferry to Penghu Islands, known for their pristine beaches, coral reefs, and historic sites.

  • Spend two days island hopping, snorkeling, and exploring attractions such as Double Heart Stone Weir and Penghu Great Bridge.

  • Enjoy fresh seafood and relax on the beautiful beaches of Penghu.

Day 15: Departure from Taipei

  • Travel back to Taipei and spend your last day exploring any remaining attractions or shopping for souvenirs.

  • Depart from Taipei, concluding your two-week adventure in Taiwan.

These itineraries offer a comprehensive overview of Taiwan's diverse attractions, including cultural landmarks, natural wonders, and vibrant cities. Feel free to adjust the itineraries based on your interests and preferences.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN TAIWAN


Admire the Taipei 101

This beautiful building is synonymous with the city of Taipei. Having held the title of the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010 and with its unique form, shaped like a stalk of bamboo emerging from the city, one can clearly understand why Taipei is so proud of this building.


Insider Travel Tip: The lines to the Taipei 101 can get busy which is why we recommend booking your tickets online. Collect your ticket at the self-service ticket machine for convenience.


Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

Free to visit, the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is situated within Liberty Square, which also houses the classical-Chinese style National Theatre and National Concert Hall. If you are inside the Memorial Hall on the hour, you can see the changing of the guards.


Visit Taroko Gorge in Taroko National Park

Taroko National Park and Gorge can easily be visited from almost anywhere in Taiwan and are indeed very impressive and should not be missed. You can access the park either by arranged tour, private guide, by public bus or by your own transportation. See our Blog Post on How to See Taroko National Park. Each option has its pros and cons, however, we recommend renting a scooter if you are comfortable doing so. If you’re short on time but want to see the best of Taroko, we recommend this day tour from Taipei.

Visit Hualien & Qixingtan Scenic Area

If you want to escape the big cities and enjoy the beauty of the nature of Taiwan, the relaxed town of Hualien and the incredibly beautiful coastline of the Qixingtan Scenic Area are must-see.


Sun Moon Lake

At the foothills of Taiwan’s Central Mountain Range, Sun Moon Lake is surrounded by forested peaks. East of the lake, the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is a theme park with a section devoted to re-created indigenous villages. The Sun Moon Lake Ropeway cable car offers views of the mountains and water.


Dragon and Tiger Pagodas at Lotus Lake

Located in a scenic area, on the edge of Lotus Lake, these two pagodas are possibly the most popular attractions in the port city of Kaohsiung. Visitors enter the temple through the dragon’s mouth and exit through the tiger’s mouth and can enjoy a view of the lake from the top of each tower.


Taste The Local Cuisine At A Night Market

A typical night market in Taiwan may sell anything from food to clothing to fortune-telling services. The variety of food on offer can be staggering and you're sure to be surprised by the interesting and unique combinations. We have made a bunch of videos of our experiences at night markets all across Taiwan (see here) - and NEVER left hungry! If you're on the hunt for anything besides food many a bargain can be had, and wherever prices are not displayed, haggling is expected. Discover the best of Taiwan night market food with the help of a local guide


SUGGESTED ITINERARIES FOR VISIING TAIWAN


One-Week Itinerary: Best of Taiwan Highlights

Day 1: Arrival in Taipei

  • Arrive in Taipei and check into your accommodation.

  • Explore Taipei's bustling Ximending district, known for shopping, street food, and entertainment.

  • Visit the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper for panoramic views of the city.

Day 2: Taipei City Tour

  • Explore the historic district of Dadaocheng and visit attractions like Dihua Street and Bao'an Temple.

  • Visit the National Palace Museum to see its vast collection of Chinese artifacts.

  • Explore the trendy neighborhoods of Da'an or Zhongshan in the evening.

Day 3: Day Trip to Jiufen and Keelung

  • Take a day trip to Jiufen, a charming mountain town known for its narrow streets and old tea houses.

  • Explore Jiufen Old Street, enjoy tea at a traditional teahouse, and visit the Jiufen Gold Mine Museum.

  • Visit the lively night market in Keelung for dinner and street food.

Day 4: Taroko Gorge

  • Travel to Hualien and explore Taroko Gorge National Park, one of Taiwan's most stunning natural attractions.

  • Visit highlights such as the Swallow Grotto, Eternal Spring Shrine, and Shakadang Trail.

  • Overnight in Hualien.

Day 5: Sun Moon Lake

  • Travel to Sun Moon Lake and take a scenic boat ride on the lake.

  • Visit attractions like Wenwu Temple and Ci'en Pagoda for panoramic views of the lake.

  • Enjoy hiking or cycling around the lake shores.

  • Overnight in Sun Moon Lake area.

Day 6: Alishan

  • Travel to Alishan and experience the Alishan Forest Railway, one of Taiwan's most scenic train journeys.

  • Explore Alishan National Scenic Area, including the Sacred Tree and Sister Pond.

  • Watch the sunrise at Alishan and take in the breathtaking views.

  • Overnight in Alishan or Chiayi.

Day 7: Departure from Taipei

  • Travel back to Taipei and spend your last day exploring any remaining attractions or shopping for souvenirs.

  • Depart from Taipei, concluding your one-week trip to Taiwan.


Two-Week Itinerary: Comprehensive Taiwan Experience

Follow the one-week itinerary above and extend your stay with the following additional days:

Day 8: Tainan

  • Travel to Tainan, Taiwan's oldest city, known for its rich history and cultural heritage.

  • Visit historical sites such as Anping Fort, Chihkan Tower, and the Confucius Temple.

  • Enjoy traditional Taiwanese cuisine at Tainan's famous night markets.

Day 9-10: Kenting National Park

  • Travel to Kenting National Park, located at the southern tip of Taiwan.

  • Spend two days exploring the park's beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and hiking trails.

  • Visit attractions such as Kenting Main Street, Longpan Park, and Maobitou.

Day 11-12: Kaohsiung

  • Travel to Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second-largest city, known for its modern skyline and cultural attractions.

  • Explore landmarks like the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center, Lotus Pond, and Cijin Island.

  • Visit the Pier-2 Art Center and enjoy the local food scene at Liuhe Night Market.

Day 13-14: Penghu Islands

  • Take a flight or ferry to Penghu Islands, known for their pristine beaches, coral reefs, and historic sites.

  • Spend two days island hopping, snorkeling, and exploring attractions such as Double Heart Stone Weir and Penghu Great Bridge.

  • Enjoy fresh seafood and relax on the beautiful beaches of Penghu.

Day 15: Departure from Taipei

  • Travel back to Taipei and spend your last day exploring any remaining attractions or shopping for souvenirs.

  • Depart from Taipei, concluding your two-week adventure in Taiwan.


These itineraries offer a comprehensive overview of Taiwan's diverse attractions, including cultural landmarks, natural wonders, and vibrant cities. Feel free to adjust the itineraries based on your interests and preferences.

Taiwan
What To Eat

WHAT TO EAT IN TAIWAN

WHAT TO EAT IN TAIWAN

Taiwanese cuisine is, in essence, Taiwanese but is also greatly influenced by Japanese and Chinese. What makes the cuisine so special is the Taiwanese passion for food, influences from many different countries, and the fact that most cities and towns are famous for a special dish of their own. Taiwan is synonymous with night-market food culture and you will be hard-pressed to not find an amazing meal on every street corner and at attractive prices. All you have to do is find the nearest night-market and you will be in heaven no matter what your preferences. Vegetarians are also better catered for than in most other countries.


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A Guide To The FOOD Of Taiwan

Taiwan SWEETS And SNACKS


Keep an eye out for the following must-try foods:

  • Beef Noodles - Often regarded as Taiwan’s national dish and there are many different varieties and variations. Essentially it is a noodle soup with chunks of extremely tender stewed beef and a dash of pickles.
  • Oyster Omelette - Made from eggs, oysters, and the leaves of a local chrysanthemum, topped with sweet red sauce. To be honest, we did not enjoy this!
  • Taiwan Sausage - Usually made from emulsified pork, this sausage is crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and quite sweet in taste. Usually served on a stick or with some garlic.
  • Stinky Tofu - Possibly the most famous Taiwanese delicacy, stinky tofu is fermented tofu with a strong odour often likened to rotting garbage. It's usually sold only by outdoor stalls, as the smell would overwhelm most restaurants!
  • Pepper Pork Buns - Crunchy, flaky outer dough shell topped with sesame seeds and containing a filling of peppery marinated pork with loads of scallions. It’s cooked in a cylindrical clay oven similar to an Indian tandoori oven and half of the joy of this dish is watching them being made.
  • Iron Eggs - These eggs have been stewed repeatedly and then air-dried so that they’re even more flavourful. They are usually vacuum packed and available in most convenience stores.
  • Scallion Pancake - This flaky pastry with chopped scallions makes for a delicious snack any time of the day. When served alone, it will often have a sprinkling of white pepper and cinnamon – a very unexpected combination that is absolutely delightful!
  • Pineapple Cake - This is a very traditional sweet snack which many people take a box of these home as a gift from Taiwan. One reason why it’s so popular as a gift is because the pineapple is considered an auspicious symbol in Taiwanese, meaning “incoming fortune”. The candied pineapple is contained within a buttery shortbread crust that just melts in your mouth and is surprisingly not overly sweet.
  • Peanut Ice Cream Roll - Vanilla ice-cream, fresh coriander, and crushed peanuts are rolled into a very thin pancake making for the most refreshing and delicious, albeit odd combination!
  • High Mountain Oolong Tea - Taiwan's specialty High Mountain Oolong teas are fragrant and light.
  • Pearl Milk Tea - Aka "bubble tea" or "boba tea", is a milky tea with chewy balls of tapioca added, drunk through an oversized straw. Invented in Taiwan in the early 1980s and a huge Asia-wide craze in the 1990s, it can still be found at nearly every coffee/tea shop.

LGBTQ IN TAIWAN

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights in Taiwan are regarded as the most progressive in Asia, although there are still some limitations for same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage in Taiwan became legal on 24 May 2019, making Taiwan the first nation in Asia to perform same-sex marriages.

 

Although there is still some opposition, the majority of Taiwanese are generally LGBTQ accepting. The first Taiwan Pride Parade was held in Taipei in 2003 and by 2019 it was the second-largest LGBT pride in Asia.

Taiwan

WHERE TO STAY IN TAIWAN

From $3 hostels to $100 hotels, Taiwan has a huge variety of accommodation options. Cities like Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung will have the best variety, but will also be more expensive. However, competition can be fierce so if your dates are flexible and you can stay for a longer period there are plenty of bargains. During April 2019 we spent 4 weeks in and around the North & Northeast of Taiwan and ended up spending an average of $30 per night.


For your first visit to Taiwan, choosing the right base is crucial to exploring the island's diverse attractions, from bustling cities to serene natural landscapes. Here's a breakdown of top areas and accommodations:


Where to stay in Taipei:

Taipei is the vibrant capital city of Taiwan, renowned for its bustling night markets, historic temples, and modern skyscrapers, offering a perfect blend of culture, cuisine, and convenience.

  • Budget: Consider staying at the Meander Taipei Hostel for affordable dorm beds and a central location near Taipei's main attractions and transportation hubs.

  • Mid-range: The Green World Hotel Zhonghua provides comfortable accommodations with modern amenities and easy access to Taipei's shopping and dining districts. The hostel offers dormitory-style accommodations with bunk beds as well as private rooms. Common areas include a communal kitchen, lounge area, and rooftop terrace where guests can socialize and enjoy views of the city. Meander Taipei Hostel is popular among backpackers and budget travelers due to its affordable rates and lively ambiance.

  • Luxury: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of the Mandarin Oriental Taipei, a luxurious five-star hotel located in the Da'an District of Taipei, Taiwan. It is renowned for its impeccable service, luxurious accommodations, and elegant design. The hotel features spacious rooms and suites that are beautifully appointed with high-end amenities and contemporary decor.


Best Value Tip: Visit Taipei during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) for better accommodation rates and milder weather, while still enjoying vibrant festivals and cultural events.

Where to stay in Taichung:

Taichung is Taiwan's cultural and artistic hub, known for its lively art scene, scenic parks, and vibrant street food culture, offering a relaxed atmosphere and easy access to nearby attractions like Sun Moon Lake.

  • Budget: Consider staying at the Loft 18 Hostel for affordable rooms and a central location near Taichung's art galleries and night markets.

  • Mid-range: The Tempus Hotel Taichung-Dadun provides comfortable accommodations with contemporary design and easy access to Taichung's shopping and entertainment areas.

  • Luxury: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of the Evergreen Laurel Hotel Taichung, featuring upscale rooms, a rooftop pool, and panoramic city views.


Best Value Tip: Explore Taichung's local markets and food streets for affordable and delicious dining experiences, especially for Taiwanese snacks and delicacies.

Where to stay in Kaohsiung:

Kaohsiung is Taiwan's second-largest city, known for its bustling harbor, scenic waterfront, and cultural attractions like the Lotus Pond and Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum, offering a mix of urban energy and natural beauty.

  • Budget: Consider staying at the Kiwi Express Hotel - Kaohsiung Station for affordable rooms and a central location near Kaohsiung's train station and night markets.

  • Mid-range: The Airline Inn - Kaohsiung Station provides comfortable accommodations with modern amenities and easy access to Kaohsiung's shopping and dining districts.

  • Luxury: Opt for the luxurious ambiance of the Grand Hi-Lai Hotel, featuring upscale rooms, multiple dining options, and panoramic views of Kaohsiung Harbor.

Best Value Tip: Take advantage of Kaohsiung's efficient public transportation system, including the MRT and buses, for affordable and convenient travel around the city.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are our favorite flight search engines. They index other travel websites and airlines across the globe to easily find you the best deal.

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Booking.com is our number one resource for researching and booking accommodation. In addition to Booking.com, we have found Agoda.com to consistently returns the cheapest rates in Southeast Asia. For longer stays, find unique homes worldwide on Holiday Swap, the most affordable travel platform that allows you to book homes anytime, anywhere in only a few clicks.

TRANSPORT

DiscoverCars.com is a leader in online car rental bookings; we compare car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. 12Go connects the world door-to-door, from transfers to flights, under the same user-friendly ticket.

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